We had a ton of pets growing up.  Learning how to take care of pets should be taught to children early if they live in a household with animals. At the very least, toddlers should learn how to pet and be around cats and dogs so they don’t accidentally agitate the animals to the point there they bite and scratch.

Dads and Pets
Though moms could teach their children about pet safety as well as dads, it was always my dad’s job to teach this to us girls just like it was his job to each us how to stack wood and identify stinging nettles on our property. If you live in an urban area and just have a few cats and dogs, make sure your spouse talks with your children about how to approach animals in a friendly way and how to pet your animals. Kids should never run up to an animal they don’t know and should never pull on their fur, paws, or ears in any way.

Also, you should teach your toddlers to look for signs of discomfort in your animals. Does the cat have his ears back or his fur standing up? Is your dog cowering or showing her teeth?

Larger Animals
Most of these rules apply to larger animals as well, though no toddler should ever be alone with larger animals like goats or horses. I don’t like horses much, but my dad was a farrier for a long time, which is someone who puts shoes on horses and cares for their hooves. Also, I regularly babysit a few toddlers that own and ride horses.

Because of this, I know that you should never stand behind a horse and if you need to switch sides or if you want to pet a horse on their back, you need to pet near their shoulders or front legs first and run your hand down to their back. This lets the horse know where you are.

The more your partner teaches your children about pet safety and responsibility, the more they will come to respect your pets and learn valuable skills about caring for a living creature. Pets are a great way to teach your child responsibility and love, but only if they’re taught to handle pets with care.

Christensen, J. (n.d.). Teaching children proper pet care. mom.me.